A few months back, I wrote about my love for the BBC cartoon, Charlie & Lola based on the picture books by Lauren Child. I've been watching the show ever since, getting in at least one episode per week. It honestly may be the best cartoon I've ever seen, even repeated viewings crack me up. This week, I thought I'd review on Lauren Child's earlier picture books. In many ways, this book serves as a first draft for the Charlie and Lola books. Artistically, the main character is simply a rough version of Lola and the dialogue seems a meeting of what would later become two voices. Beyond that academic curiosity, this is also the first of Lauren Child's books that I encountered over a decade ago and it's a wonderful book on it's own.
I Want a Pet by Lauren Child
(Tricycle Press 1999)
'I really want a pet' an unnamed girl announces at the start of the book, but picking the right one proves to more difficult than she anticipates. Her mom wants her to pick one without much fur, Dad suggests one that lives outside, and her Grandad believes stuffed pets to be best.
The little girl desires something a little more...exotic. But with each of her choices, one family member points out something wrong with it. Lion, wolf, and octopus are quickly ruled out as are other possibly fun critters. Just as it seems there isn't any solution to her dilemma, the little girl decides on the perfect pet. She just won't know what it is until it hatches.
I love this kind of picture book whose main purpose is simply to have a laugh. Lauren Child has always had the ability to capture the humor that comes with being a kid and trying to figure things out. There's something genuine in her characters that don't trivialize childhood difficulties, but never forget the silly joy in them as well. She has a subtle humor that can only come out in a picture book where the expressions add to the jokes in the dialogue. I Want a Pet is one of those books that can be read over and over.